41 thoughts on “Cadfael Is My Comfort Object

  1. Cadfael is my Aloysius. I simply love the books, and Sir Derek is perfectly cast as Brother Cadfael. Sean Pertwee looks alot like Outlander’s Tobias that I did a double take. But yes, he’s the best of the three for Hugh Beringer.

    And yes, the costumes are meh. But I still prefer them to the atrocity of The White Queen and it’s Satan spawn, The White Princess.

    Didn’t you know that the Bobby Pin Shortage began in France during the time of Heloise and Abelard?😁

    1. Satan’s Spawn! +; Literally, I refuse to watch The White Princess after the Travesty that was The White Queen. It doesn’t take much effort to improve on that nonsense, to be honest.

  2. I had to force myself to continue watching once Sean Pertwee was gone; I simply couldn’t believe in the other Hughs.

  3. Just looked up Sean Pertwee in Wikipedia. Hugh is only listed in Filmography. Not under known for. Pity.

  4. I’m so happy to find that I’m not the only Hugh Beringar fan! And yes, I’ve been turning back to Cadfael a lot lately.

    I went to the Pride parade in NYC a few years back, right after Obergefell so it was a very joyous occasion already. Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi were both parade grand marshalls, and when Sir Ian rode by, everyone in the crowd went crazy … then when Sir Derek rode by, the crowd quieted a little – I’m not sure everyone knew who he is, exactly – but there I was over on the sidewalk just screaming my head off, making a fool of myself. It was wonderful seeing him in person though. :)

    1. Their silence was in awe and respect for the incredibly talented and majestic Mr. Jacobi. obviously.

  5. I was a history major in college. My favorite professor invited students over every weekend, and we worked through several historical TV shows. We did Foyle’s War- Michael Kitchen is everything- and we did Cadfael. I liked Cadfael so much, I bought the DVD set. And you’re right, Sean Pertwee is the only Hugh worth his salt.

    1. He’s the son of Jon Pertwee, who was the third Doctor. He’s a better actor than his father was, though.

      He’s currently playing Alfred in Gotham.

      1. HEY!!!! no knocks against the Doctor!!!! Jon Pertwee was a very good actor, you can only do so much with the script you’re given.

  6. Went to Shrewsbury. It was all right there, as described. Lots of old, old buildings. The abbey surprised me by being red – I’d always envisioned it whiter. Went on a walking tour of the area, including the Meole Brook.

  7. In fact, just re-watched CADFAEL start to finish. I have agreed with myself to ignore the Hugh shifts, the sometimes weird costuming choices of fabrics and colors and styles. Derek Jacobi makes up for all.

    While I’ve got you here, I have to say I have not been reading here much of late. It’s the snark. There is so much of it in the world these days, I just don’t have tolerance for more. But I still value the costuming information and examples, so I save them as a resource.

  8. Really love this series. The opening credits/theme were enough to hook me for life. Many intriguing hints of Cadfael’s PAST–even a love child from his warrior days, whom he meets briefly. The son he might have raised–very poignant. And, yes, Team Pertwee! (his dad was one of the Doctors–don’t know which #)

    Sadly, not a lot of film choices in that period. My favorite is “A Lion in Winter.” All your comments also apply to it–superb, with a few warts. I blush to admit that I also love “El Cid”–if you don’t mind Hollywood Goes Medieval too much (Sophia Loren as a Spanish noblewoman!). To Ms. Staples: try IMDB for movie info. It lists casts down to the “second crusader on horse” kind of thing, plus trivia, goofs, quotes and locations. And anachronisms! My go-to, very thorough.

  9. I love Cadfael so much that my answer to those “where would you live if you could live anywhere” questions is always Shrewsbury.

  10. I am glad that most people agree with me that Sean Pertwee is the One True Hugh Berenger.

    As someone who has done a lot of clothing for this era in the SCA, it’s NOT that hard to get right. It’s just “boring” for people who think medieval = Renaissance Faires. So yes, I am deeply disappointed in a lot of the female clothing in Cadfael.

    Meanwhile, anyone else wanna write some Avice of Thornbury fan fic? :-)

  11. Way back when, I watched an episode of Brother Cadfael back in the day and misremembered it as The Name of the Rose. I’m now curious what would happen if the two had a baby.

  12. I forgot how much I loved this for a few years (back when the VHS tapes were like $100 a set), then saw the entire series for cheap on Amazon, bought it… and now I can’t go literally a week without a craving for Cadfael. It’s just that good.

    Sean Pertwee is my favorite Hugh, too. A friend met him at Comic Con last year, and said out of an entire line of GOTHAM hipsters, she was the only one to slap down a copy of her favorite Cafael book and asked him to sign it. He was damn near moved, and told her why he had to leave the show — and how much he did not want to (stupid other commitments… forever robbing us of the BEST Hugh). The other day, her cat ran past with a Cadfael book COVER in its mouth, and she freaked out for twelve seconds until she realized he HADN’T torn up her Sean Pertwee copy. Hahaha.

    No crush on Derek Jacobi is bad. Just saying. I give a dorky little fangirl squeal whenever he shows up in unexpected places. (Didn’t they slap a horrible bald cap on him and force him into a minor role in The King’s Speech a few years back? Of course, I was so Traumatized(TM) from seeing Anthony Andrews as the Prime Minister — wow, dude, what happened to my Percy? You must stay YOUNG FOREVER — to really process it at the time.)

    Why yes, I have had caffeine today, thanks for noticing.

  13. I too love this series, and especially the gorgeous Sean Pertwee. Myself and husband-at-the-time went on holiday to Shrewsbury in 1995 on the strength of watching the first season, and we were not disappointed. One of the attractions, close to the abbey, was called ‘Shrewsbury Quest’ – solving a Cadfael murder mystery by searching the buildings and looking for clues. Sadly now closed and long gone!

      1. I think the building is still there, now used for the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. I passed it when I was last there, about 8 years ago.

  14. I truly adore Derek Jacobi but his silvery elegance is dead wrong for Cadfael, just as tall fair haired Sean Pertwee is wrong as Hugh Berringar. I could forgive that but the horrible things they did in ‘adapting’ the books turned me off forever.

  15. I am soooo happy you posted this!! I love Cadfael and have since I was about 12. Derek Jacobi is so marvelous! A few years ago I got to see him play Lear. Amazing.
    And Brother Jerome is my favorite!!! Ahhh he cracks me up. I didn’t realize he was Colin’s brother. That makes it so much better. Thanks for writing this one!!

  16. Saw the show, went across the street to the library and checked out all the books, and started seriously considering joining the SCA for the first time. I also have a Brother Cadfael herbal/gardening book.

  17. I think Colin Firth’s brother is Jonathan Firth, not Julian. Crispin Bonham Carter (Mr Bingley in 1995 P&P) appears in a Cadfael episode – The Rose Rent.

      1. Yes, you are right bshaurette. Colin’s brother Jonathan Firth was in episode 3 of season 1.

    1. Susanna, I came here to state the very same thing. Julian Firth (brother Jerome aka “punchable face”) is NOT a brother of Colin Firth. They were both born in 1960 and are NOT related. Colin has only 1 bother who is indeed called Jonathan Firth (also an actor) who was born in 1967. They have 1 sister called Katie Firth (who is a voice coach).

      I loved Cadfael when it first in 1994. And found it on YouTube, just the other day. So now I’m trying not to binge watch the whole 4 seasons in one go. 😁

  18. Thanks for this posting–loved this show. No, it is Julian, not Jonathan Firth (though check out Jonathan in Middlemarch, from 199something–feckless and adorable); you can see him in hip 1950’s gear in Absolute Beginners (I want to live in this movie’s vision of London!) and as the incredibly icky Mr. Soames in Clarissa (which you should watch anyway because of Sean Bean AND Sean Pertwee as best friends). And I hope you all have seen the wonderful Jacobi in two amazingly costumed Dickensian films–Little Dorrit (way better than the recent one w/Claire Foy and Matthew McFadyen) and The Fool–both directed by Christine Edzard. Her sense of period detail is immaculate. The Fool is much harder to find, but it’s a story of a nobody clerk who creates an alter ego of the urbane Sir John. Loved it. Think I’ll go now and watch it again.

  19. I love Derek Jacobi too but he’s much too elegant and handsome for Cadfael. And not one of Hugh’s actors is short, slim and dark as he is.

  20. I adore Cadfael. Its literally one of my favourite historical dramas of all time, but I must agree about the costumes and Hugh Beringar. Also, Cadfael is not nearly Welsh enough, and there are some other dodgy scenes.

    Otherwise though, I freaking love Cadfael, because its about the best depictions of herbalism in the Middle Ages that I have ever seen. Any other series would have some stupid anachronism with a ‘wise woman’ and everyone running around screaming ‘witch’ because she plucked some Sage or set a bone.

    Also, its one of the only Medieval series that accurately distinguishes between priests and monks.
    One of my absolute pet hates is when characters in historical dramas make confession to monks, or refer to them as ‘priest’ or ‘father’. If you’re going to have characters from the clergy, at least get their roles and positions right, for the love of Pete. Its so lazy and annoying when they don’t.

  21. The Cadfael series makes me scream/laugh! It is absolutely awful compared to the books. Stories are dumbed down or changed, some actors are horribly miscast, including Derek Jacobi as Cadfael.. or no, maybe to be fair he was badly directed, there are too many times he is stuttering, exasperated, disapproving, compared to the mellow, experienced and forgiving (not to mention Welsh) Cadfael of the books. The relationship between Hugh and Cadfael, don’t get me started.

    However, I have to give credit to Michael Culver as Prior Robert, and Julian Firth as Brother Jerome. They stand out as the two really well cast and pertrayed… the two that I see in my mind when I read the books.

  22. I love the books, and years ago a friend gave me the first vhs set. . . and what the screenwriters did to one of my favorites, The Pilgrim of Hate (changing an actual beautifully done miracle for someone having been faking their disability the whole time) – well, that annoyed me so much, I refused to watch the rest. I’ll just re-read the series.

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